This week (August 21-27) is Speech Pathology Week. It’s an opportunity to recognise and reflect on the important work speech pathologists do to support the 1.2 million people in Australia who live with communication disability.
Speech pathologists work with people of all ages to support communication at all stages of life. Communication difficulties may occur due to developmental delays, brain injuries, intellectual disability, dementia, stroke and more.
What Speech Pathology Week means to our team
At The Benevolent Society, our 42 speech pathologists support clients across New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.
Amy Stuart, from our Brisbane team, has been working as a speech pathologist since 1999. “It’s nice to have a week that puts the spotlight on the work that is achieved in the Speech Pathology profession,” says Amy, who joined us in 2013. “Speech Pathology Week is also a time to highlight what services are available for families. Often people don’t know the full scope of what is offered.”
This year’s theme is ‘Good Communication, Better Communities’. Samantha Bell, who works in our southern team in South Australia, explains what the theme means to her. “We’re all part of the one community and this week is about creating more opportunities to build connections with someone that might not be speaking the same way as you but has got just as much to say.”
Myth busting – what is speech pathology?
There are common myths about speech pathology, namely that it’s just about helping people with lisps and stutters.
“There is an incredible scope of practise within this role,” Amy explains. “We work with people of all ages to increase language development, sound development, voice and fluency difficulties, feeding difficulties and literacy skills.
“We help many to use devices to communicate if they can’t through voice and help to build social skills. At times we are helping those to build new skills and sometimes to re-build skills that have been lost.”
Making a difference
Positively impacting people’s lives is one of the most rewarding parts of their profession. Amy, who works mainly with children, says: “I feel privileged to be a part of a child’s journey and helping families achieve the goals they want from their children.
“I love to watch parents and care givers being empowered to realise the impact they have on their child’s development. Watching children make advances in their communication is incredibly heart-warming.”
Samantha’s clients range in age from three to 21. “I love to see results,” she says, recalling a non-verbal autistic client who saw her three years ago and was only able to use two signs to communicate. Together, they worked hard to expand his signing and the 19-year-old is now able to communicate about 50 words with his hands and understand more than he did before.
Communication disability affects a person’s ability to understand and be understood by others. Helping clients achieve their communication goals is what inspires our team of speech pathologists here at The Benevolent Society.
“I really believe communication gives people independence,” Samantha says. “It gives people opportunities to be able to connect with others.”
Visit our Speech Pathology page to learn more about services.